Having a peanut allergy is something that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I used to wonder what it felt like to go to school and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that was made for me by my parents. Unfortunately, that will never be a reality. My childhood responsibility was to warn people that I was severely allergic, which would result in one or both of us having to change seats. 

Imani Williams

I bet you're wondering just how severe my allergy is to nuts. In order to get a reaction, all I have to do is smell it. That reaction would be just as severe as if I were to ingest it. My throat would start becoming itchy very quickly, which would cause me to cough, and then my eyes would begin to water. If I let the reaction continue, then my throat would start to close and I could go into shock. Thankfully, I've never had an experience that serious.

The worst reaction I've ever had was when I recently ate a "caramel" cupcake. I was fooled by the tantalizing icing only to realize moments later that it was peanut butter. If I were able to smell the PB, then obviously I wouldn't have eaten it. I remember immediately feeling the itchiness in my throat and my eyes beginning to water. Luckily, I was able to stop the reaction early on by drinking a lot of water and taking a Benadryl, which is an antihistamine.

The Facts

nut, cashew, cereal, peanut
Kristine Mahan

Having a peanut allergy is extremely common. Members of the The New England Journal of Medicine presented research that helped quell fears that this allergy is hereditary. Families with a history of peanut allergies didn't necessarily carry it down to their kids. They found that the allergy develops on its own.

Other research done by Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology did a study to see if a person could outgrow their peanut allergy. They concluded that you can't necessarily get rid of it, but you can develop a tolerance, which is progress. Up until now, there hasn't been any permanent solution, but who knows where science will be in 20 years?

Life These Days

nut, almond, peanut
Christin Urso

In recent years, I've grown to take my allergy in stride. I don't let it bother me as much nor do I spend so much time thinking about it. Yes, I'm still just as allergic as I was during my childhood, but I've made it work for me. Part of my grocery shopping routine is to take a minute to look at the the ingredients list to see if there are peanuts or peanut oil.

I'm usually lenient when a package says something to the effect that the food item was made in a "factory that has tree nuts, wheat, etc." I know that companies put that for legal reasons, so I'm okay with that. 

When I am with my friends, I tend to make light of the situation. I always try to tell them, "If I'm not worried, then you shouldn't be either." Don't get me wrong though, I appreciate their concern. Sometimes when my friends are scatterbrained, I'll ask one of them to grab me a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup just to get a rise out of them. It makes me laugh every time.